Tuesday, July 03, 2007

A Shout-Out to Bryan Caplan

I recently enjoyed catching up with Bryan Caplan, as we were both teaching at the Institute for Humane Studies' Wake Forest Liberty and Society seminar. I've known Bryan for years, but not seen him for quite a long while. You have probably heard of him thanks to his prominent new book, The Myth of the Rational Voter, or via his posts on the widely read EconLog.

I owe Bryan a "thank you" because he suggested a helpful edit to the supply/demand charts that I used to explain the origin and development of government services. I should also note, both as good scholarship and because it proves an interesting coincidence, that some years ago Bryan wrote a blog post explaining the origins of statism in a manner congruent with my own. He there said, in relevant part:
[S]cale economies are weak now, but things used to be very different. States emerged at a time when markets were too small to sustain more firms. Over time, the economic rationale for monopoly has grown weaker and weaker. Competition could work now, if you gave it a chance. But the state doesn't care about economic rationales. As long as it can credibly threaten to put new entrants in jail, its monopoly endures.

Another interesting co-incidence between Bryan and me: He's written a graphic novel, Amore Infernale, about (inter alia) the transformative power of music, whereas at the same IHS seminar where we both recently taught, I performed a couple of libertarian-themed tunes. Granted, Bryan has written about how a song can literally raise hell, whereas I've at best managed only to figuratively raise a little of it. But, still, we both evidently enjoy mixing art and ideas.

I've got another IHS seminar coming up next week—this time at Bryn Mawr. I'm looking forward to hanging with my co-blogger, Glen Whitman, and other old friends who'll be serving on the faculty. I believe that Glen plans to have us blog the seminar, as we did back in 2005. If so, you might get live reports about the three musical performances I've got planned: The Interstate Commerce Blues, (with the EU verse, optional), Monster, (which I didn't perform at Wake Forest), and "Hello, Jonah," (a song I've yet to blog about).

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